24 May 2008

Genevieve Bell’s anthropological advice at Berkeley commencement

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Genevieve Bell
Last week Genevieve Bell, a highly respected anthropologist and Director of User Experience within Intel’s Digital Home Group, gave the 2008 commencement speech at the UC Berkeley School of Information.

She filled it with “anthropological advice” about how to approach the world like a fieldwork project.

“But I am suggesting a different kind of openness and vulnerability. One that engages you and decenters you, requires you not to be at the center of attention or a social network. This kind of vulnerability, or humility, brings with it grace.

Maintain your ability to be surprised – this takes work but is another important part of how to be in the world and another piece of anthropological advice I would give you. Experiencing surprise is a really good thing as it marks the moments when we encounter the stuff that doesn’t fit into our world views. It is when our assumptions are most clearly revealed, allowing us to move past them.”

Download the text of her speech (pdf, 9 pages)

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